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Opening a Hardware Store

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Starting a new hardware store to go up against the likes of the big box home improvement stores is no easy task. The national chain stores have the name recognition and corporate support that would appear at first to crush the local startup hardware shop. However, it is actually the gargantuan size of the big box store that makes them vulnerable to local competition. This article looks at the specific features that a new hardware store needs to focus on in order to take on the national chains.

Store layout
Big box chain stores often resemble an aircraft hangar due to their immense size. Just one or two aisles in a national chain could have enough products that would stock the shelves of a local hardware store. Customers can spend up to half an hour just wandering the store looking for a certain product. This is often viewed as an unavoidable necessity for consumers that shop at such stores. Having a simple yet high-density shop layout is not only the key to optimizing floor space, but also integral in allowing customers to come into contact with a maximum variety of products. If customers are viewing a large selection of products while browsing a more compact space, it helps to weaken the perception of chain shops as being the only option for choice and selection.

Shelving Units
The most critical part of maximizing layout and storage is in the actual shelving units used in the store. One way to maximize floor space is to incorporate a modular storage system that uses vertical modules. This way, the lower level of a shelf can be used for displaying single items, while the upper levels of the shelf are used for storing the stock of the display items. It is important to plan what the stock shelves will hold in advance so that they are not over-loaded with heavy items. Thinking vertically can also be applied to the aisles themselves. If an aisle has excessive headroom, other than what the browsing customer’s needs, beams can be added between aisles for more pallet space. In addition to the aisles, the walls of the building can be used as display space with hanging shelving units that use part of the wall. Either adjustable shelves or fixed brackets can be used in a hanging unit.

Supply Chain Management
Optimizing incoming and outgoing products are just as important as optimizing floor space. Having an inventory system is critical for maintaining stock and meeting customer demand. Premium inventory systems can be configured to order new shipments from a variety of sources automatically when stock gets low. The primary source for most stock items is going to be from hardware wholesalers. Other products are going to be sent in directly from hardware manufactures. If stock room space is limited, items can also be drop shipped directly to customers. Items that are not brand name specific or require high volumes are the most attractive for drop shipping. Preventing overstocking will also free up space for additional stock or display items.

This has been a guest post by the Schaefer Shelving, helping customers improve their supply chain, logistics, storage and distribution processes.

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